PIST comments to ATU Press conference

Sunday, December 11, 2011 12:04:00 PM
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          Students with Disabilities have the right to a Free, Appropriate Public Education under federal law.  Anyone who undercuts yellow busing is undercutting the delivery of this civil right.  Not every neighborhood school has the services or programs to meet every special need.  There has to be free busing—with trained, experienced drivers and escorts—so that our kids can get where they belong, safely and on time, and in a frame of mind to learn!

       Busing in NYC has many problems, but not because of the bus unions.  Parents to Improve School Transportation campaigns for a School Bus Bill of Rights, to address the issues in a pro-active way.  We have gotten more of a sense of genuine concern from school bus unions like ATU 1181—whose members come from the same working-class communities as the children, and who know what bus conditions are like—than we get from Bloomberg or his appointees in charge of Pupil Transportation. 

       We have noted Deputy Chancellor Grimm’s practice of cutting out 3 to 400 routes each September, until some parents file complaints or threaten to sue; this leads to complicated long routes that forceour children to miss many hours of school each year.   Even these temporary layoffs are unacceptable; they provide a hint of the Bloomberg administration’s agenda to provide as minimal a service as they can get away with, in disregard of student rights.  

         ATU is an endorser of and contributor to our School Bus Bill of Rights.  They support the grievances of bus parents.   They like we, are tired of Tweed’s unsafe and insensitive “cost-cutting” approaches.  They, like we, want more, not less, funding and training invested into school busing. 

          We as bus parents support Employee Protection Provisions, and decent wages and benefits in every ATU contract.  These are hard-working people who provide a vital service to our children’s education.   A billionaire who would refuse to grant job security to senior bus employees is basically saying to parents:  Anybody off the street can take your little ones to school; qualifications don’t matter.  WE DISAGREE.

         We are standing with the bus unions to insist that our children’s safety is not turned over to the lowest bidder, despite the Mayor’s apparent wish to do so.  We want drivers and escorts who don’t have to spend each trip wondering if they will have a job, or a living wage, or a pension, next year.  We want drivers and escorts who feel empowered to point out potential safety hazards before incidents occur.  WE WANT UNIONIZED, TRAINED DRIVERS WHO KNOW HOW TO HANDLE OUR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN!

         This multicultural city has a long way to go to make a fair education accessible to all children, regardless of disability or income or housing.  Better busing can only help, and that’s why we are here today.

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